T Nation

Bush Sets Up Domestic Spy Service


Bush sets up domestic spy service
US President George W Bush has ordered the creation of a domestic intelligence service within the FBI, as part of a package of 70 new security measures.

The White House says it is enacting the measures to fight international terrorist groups and prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

The authorities will also be given the power to seize the property of people deemed to be helping the spread of WMD. An independent commission recommended the measures earlier this year.

The new measures form part of Mr Bush's overhaul of US intelligence agencies, aimed at bolstering the fight against terrorism and weapons proliferation.

FBI overhaul

The FBI is to be re-organised, and will include another new intelligence body called the National Security Service.

A stronger, more vibrant intelligence community produces better intelligence products upon which good decisions can be made

Frances Townsend
White House homeland security adviser

It will assume responsibility for intelligence work within the US, and combine the Justice Department's intelligence, counter-terrorism and espionage units.

Correspondents say the measure is designed to help dissolve the barriers between the FBI and the CIA.

John Negroponte, who was given the new job of US director of national intelligence in April, will be charged with putting the changes into effect.

Other measures include:

* An executive order allowing US authorities to seize the assets of any person or any company thought to be aiding the spread of WMD, targeting specifically eight companies including two from North Korea, one from Iran and one from Syria

* The establishment of a national counter-proliferation centre, to centralise US efforts to stop the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons

* Giving control of all overseas human intelligence operations to the CIA

* Seeking the creation of a new assistant attorney general position to centralise responsibility for intelligence and national security at the Justice Department.

'Win for the people'

The Silverman-Robb Commission handed its report to Mr Bush in March.

The commission found that US intelligence on Iraq's WMD had been wrong, and it recommended to the president 74 ways in which the US intelligence effort could be improved.

The FBI will not get ahead of the terrorist threat if it doesn't have a fully dedicated intelligence service, and now it will

Jane Harman
Democrat Representative
Mr Bush has now accepted 70 of those recommendations.

White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend said the new measures were a "win for the American people".

"A stronger, more vibrant intelligence community produces better intelligence products upon which good decisions can be made," she said.

Democrats gave a cautious welcome to the measures.

"The FBI will not get ahead of the terrorist threat if it doesn't have a fully dedicated intelligence service, and now it will," California Representative Jane Harman told CNN.

"But this will require a massive culture change within the FBI, because the guns and badges and the mind-set of the FBI don't totally fit with the challenges of countering terrorism."

The BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington says Americans have long resisted the growth of domestic intelligence agencies, believing they pose a threat to civil liberties.

But Mr Bush can ill-afford politically to see another intelligence failure like that in Iraq on his watch, he says.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/06/30 11:22:52 GMT



Okay, this is ticking me off!

This post has been up for over three hours and not one liberal has trashed Bush!

Come on guys what's up?


How will a new domestic secret police help us avoid intelligence "mistakes" like the "WMD-in-Iraq" snafu? And, look, the Democrats support it! It must be a good idea if the Democrats support it! They always make good decisions!


I think it's a great idea to spy on your fellow citizens.

Now we'll really know who is sleeping with who and what their orientation really is.

These are pressing matters of national interest!

I can't imagine even a single way in which an abuse of authority could occur in a situation where the government is allowed to spy on it's own citizens.

Especially when those citizens, such as senators and other elected officials, might be contacted by illicit groups from time to time. Obviously they should all be watched at all times!

It's important to get dirt off all the representatives! How else to keep them clean?

What's next? I think some type of combination of church and state should be attempted, the time is ripe! I can't wait. I'm like a kid in a candy store the night before Christmas.


Is that because Gay marriage is now allowed in your home land of Canada? :slightly_smiling:


Is it? Damn! We'd better get our own internal spy service! Wait, I think we already have one... at least they'll be kept busy this way.


FBI spy planes patrol U.S.
By CURT ANDERSON , The Associated Press 03/15/2003
WASHINGTON - The FBI has a fleet of aircraft, some equipped with night surveillance and eavesdropping equipment, flying America's skies to track and collect intelligence from suspected terrorists.

The FBI will not provide exact figures on the planes and helicopters, but more than 80 are in the skies. There are several planes, known as "Nightstalkers," equipped with infrared devices that allow agents to track people and vehicles in the dark.

Other aircraft are outfitted with electronic surveillance equipment so agents can pursue listening devices placed in cars, in buildings and even along streets, or listen to cell phone calls. Still others fly photography missions, although officials would not describe precise capabilities.

The FBI, which has made counterterror its top priority since Sept. 11, 2001, has sharply increased its use of aircraft.

"You want to watch activity, and you want to do it discreetly. You don't want to be sitting around in cars," said Weldon Kennedy, a former FBI deputy director who retired in 1997 after 33 years with the bureau. "Aviation is one way to do that. You don't need to get close to that person at all."

Some critics say the surveillance technology further blurs the boundaries on domestic spying. They point to a 2001 case in which the Supreme Court found police had engaged in an unreasonable search by using thermal imaging equipment to detect heat lamps used to grow marijuana plants indoors.

"The cop on the beat now has Superman's X-ray eyes," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the technology and liberty program at the American Civil Liberties Union. "We need to fundamentally rethink what is a reasonable expectation of privacy."

All 56 FBI field offices have access to aircraft, piloted by FBI agents who have other investigative duties as well.

Most aircraft are propeller-driven civilian models, favored for their relatively slow speed and unobtrusive appearance.

Legally, no warrants are necessary for the FBI to track cars or people from the air. Law enforcement officials need warrants to search homes or to plant listening devices or monitor cell phone calls - and that includes when the listener is flying in an airplane.

A senior FBI official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the FBI does not do flyovers to listen to telephone calls and gather electronic data from random citizens in hopes the data will provide leads. Rather, the planes are used to follow specific individuals, some of whom may already have been bugged or for whom the FBI has a warrant to listen to cell phone calls.

Still, the idea of an FBI air force gives at least some people pause.

The FBI will not disclose where the planes are being used. This month, however, in the college town of Bloomington, Ind., residents spotted a Cessna aircraft flying overhead at roughly the same times every day for more than a week.

After first issuing denials, local FBI agents admitted it was their plane, involved in a terrorism investigation.

FBI officials also were quick to say it was not doing electronic eavesdropping.

"There should be no concern that the aircraft is doing anything other than assisting with physical surveillance," said FBI agent James Davis.

The FBI has been using airplanes since 1938, when an agent in a Stinson monoplane helped stop an extortion attempt that involved a payoff package thrown from a moving passenger train. The first major deployment happened in 1975 during the investigation of the killings of two FBI agents at the sprawling Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

The program has been particularly useful in investigations of organized crime and drug trafficking. Mobsters who suspected their homes and telephones were bugged frequently held meetings in moving cars, not realizing that bugs also were placed there and were being monitored from the air.

Aircraft are now seen as ideal in the FBI's domestic war on terror. FBI Director Robert Mueller said last year there was a 60 percent increase in field office requests for airplanes in the year after the Sept. 11 attacks, with almost 90 percent of air missions now dedicated to surveillance.

"You don't have a criminal case. You don't necessarily have a terrorism case. You want to know what they are doing, who their associates are, who they are meeting with," retired agent Kennedy said. "Surveillance is going to have a pretty big role in that."

Congress approved this year a $20 million increase in the FBI's aviation budget but denied a request for two new Black Hawk helicopters. It also ordered the bureau to develop a master plan for its aviation program.

The FBI also can request aviation help from the Defense Department. That can involve a great deal of bureaucracy and care, however, to ensure the military does not violate laws preventing them from doing law enforcement work within the United States.


So, if your kid associates with some students that are under surveillance, you can expect to be followed around by spy plane yourself.

I love it.

I see, Mrs. Anderson shops at the Piggly Wiggly at 7:30pm on Tuesdays. Very interesting. She also stops at the Lonely Beaver motel for a couple of hours on Thursdays.

I think we'd best send a field agent down to the Lonely Beaver...

wink wink


People won't even accept the potential damage this can cause until their love affair with who they voted for has ended.


You don't need a spy plane to do that. The FBI, police, and private citizens alike have all been free to investigate within the boundaries of the law... which includes following Ms. Anderson by foot or plane. The NSA has probably been spying on us for years, intercepting cell phone calls and e-mails. Yet I never see the NSA listed in any of these articles about reorganizing intelligence.

The fact of the matter is, you have to get over the idea of someone listening in. Someone might be following you, listening to your phone conversations, or even watching you inside your home with infra-red. That's nothing new. What we have to guard against are a) warrantless searches being used as evidence in trial, and b)the abuse of surveilance techniques to bully or extort private and public figures.

It's unlikely that they're going to say "hey, let's get this vroom guy, he looks like a good target!" It's equally unlikely that the FBI is going to gather any evidence on a celebrity or political figure that some paparazzo hasn't already scrounged up.

If all we're talking about is allowing the FBI and CIA to work together without expanding their powers, what's the problem?


Sounds like a great use of taxpayer monies Nep.

What do you want to bet that we don't arrest many terrorists but that we do use these resources to futher other investigations?

Terrorism is simply a lever used to pry open the coffers and loosen the restrictions on authority over the populace.




I'm going to buy myself a copy of 1984 before the book burnings start...


If you want to complain about certain provisions of the PATRIOT ACT, fine. If you want to complain about a lot of things, fine. But fixing an intelligence community that has been screwed up for years?

And no, I don't think it's a great use of taxpayer money to hound Mrs. Anderson, and I sort of doubt that's what they're doing.

What's wrong, btw, with them using this technology to catch normal criminals if the rules are still the same, and they have to get valid warrants? I'd agree that if the FBI were using special terrorism powers to nab "normal" criminals, that would be a bad thing... or at least disingenuous. But if they get some helicopters and have warrants... what's the problem, again?


Don't you live in Canada? Don't you all have printing presses? You surely don't need to import books from the US.


Vroom I'm pretty liberal, but if your from Canada maybe you shouldn't use the phrase "we" when refering to the U.S.

Sorry, I agree with most of the stuff you say, but that little thing kind of irks me.






Sorry Kevin, but I'm not about to stop now. The border is a minor thing and I've crossed it enough times that it is meaningless at this point.


Nep, I think terrorism is something that is loosely defined and that it is used to justify a lot of changes. No, I really don't mind if real criminals are caught because there aren't many terrorists to catch...

However, if there aren't all that many terrorists to catch, maybe we don't need to expand the powers of various departments and squeeze the rights of citizens any further.

The next thing you know the government will be able to take your land from you because you aren't earning enough in taxes... oops. Too late.

Or maybe growing marijuana in your back yard for medicinal purposes, as approved by the state you live in, will be considered interstate commerce and you'll be subject to arrest by federal authorities... oops. Too late.

Wouldn't spy planes be a great way to find all those pot plants people are trying to sneak into their gardens? Yeah! Damned pot smokers are certainly linked to terrorists!


They already do this. Much of this legislation will just make it that much easier for them to track every citizen. I am not sure why anyone would be alright with this considering I was under the impression that NOT doing this was what set America apart. I suppose "freedom" is a very loose word lately and it all depends on who is in office.